30 USDA Zone 2 Trees (Nut, Fruit, Flowering & Fast Growing)

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Home » USDA Zone 2 » 30 USDA Zone 2 Trees (Nut, Fruit, Flowering & Fast Growing)

Lying outside of the conterminous United States, Zone 2 is among the coldest regions in the country. This planting zone is found within the interior areas of Alaska, including the city of Fairbanks in subzone 2a and the town of Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) in subzone 2b.

In this article, we’ve made it easier for you to select the 30 hardiest trees you can grow in USDA Zone 2. This list includes 8 fruit trees, 6 evergreen trees, 6 drought-tolerant trees, 5 fast-growing trees, and 5 dwarf trees and shrubs.

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With winter temperatures reaching as low as -50°F, gardeners in Alaska have to deal with a tundra-like environment and frequent drought. Plus, the short growing season lasts only three months from June to August.

If you live in Zone 2, you’ll have to pick only the hardiest trees and shrubs to survive the harsh climate. Here are some dates and temperatures to remember when you’re gardening in Alaska:

  • Estimated last frost date for Zone 2: May 15-22
  • Estimated first frost date for Zone 2: September 1-8
Minimum Average Temperatures
Zone 2-50 to -40 °F-46 to -40 °C
Zone 2a-50 to -45 °F-46 to -43 °C
Zone 2b-45 to -40 °F-43 to -40 °C

Fruit Trees for Zone 2

1. Siberian Crabapple (Malus baccata) – Fruit Tree

Siberian Crabapple

Among the easiest and most beautiful fruit trees you can grow in Alaska are crabapple trees. Crabapples are smaller cousins of apples, but they are just as flavorful and packed with nutrients. They’re also excellent pollinator trees for nearby apples, pears, and cherries.

Over 1,000 cultivars and hybrids of crabapples are grown worldwide. What makes them so popular is their unrivaled ornamental value. You’ll see fragrant white flowers turning more vibrant pink throughout Spring, followed by abundant red crabapples you can harvest in the Fall.

The Siberian Crabapple is native to the northern borders of Asia, but it thrives just as well in USDA Zone 2. It produces soft, tart fruits—perfect for making jellies, jams, and sauces. Grow your Siberian Crabapple tree in sunny locations with moist, well-drained acidic soils.

Other Common Names: Manchurian Crabapple, Chinese Crabapple

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 20-50 feet tall,15-25 feet wide

Fruiting Season: Fall

Other Crabapple Varieties Suitable for Zone 2: Columnar Siberian Crabapple, Dolgo Crabapple, Emerald Spire® Crabapple, Kerr Crabapple, Manchurian Crabapple, Rosthern #18 Crabapple, Trailman Crabapple

2. Cherry (Prunus) – Fruit Tree

Cherry Tree

Cherry blossoms, as you might know, are famous for creating a romantic scenery of pink and white flowers in Spring. Although they are typically associated with Asian landscapes, many cherry trees also grow in the coldest regions of Alaska.

Cherries belong to the Prunus genus. Their fruits can either be sweet, sour, or simply ornamental. Cherries are different from berries because all cherries are edible, but some can be too bitter for one’s taste. Note that cherry pits are usually toxic, so don’t eat those!

In general, cherry trees take about 4-7 years to bear their first fruits. Hardy to Zone 2 are Nanking Cherries with a strong, bittersweet flavor. Chokecherries make good jelly; Russian Almonds have a nice, mealy flavor; and Western Sandcherries can be eaten fresh.

Other Common Names: Sour Cherries, Sweet Cherries, Wild Cherries

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 6-30 feet tall, 20 feet wide

Fruiting Season: Summer to Fall

Cherry Varieties Suitable for Zone 2: Chokecherry (P. virginiana var. virginiana), Nanking Cherry (P. tomentosa), Russian Almond (P. tenella), Western Sandcherry (P. pumila var. besseyi)

3. Manchurian Apricot (Prunus mandshurica) – Fruit Tree

Manchurian Apricot

Hardiest among all the edible apricot varieties, the Manchurian Apricot grows in Zone 2 where few other fruit trees can survive. Alas, it only bears fruit every 2-3 years. When it does, you’ll have ping-pong sized apricots that can feed humans and wildlife alike.

Since apricot trees are grown from seed, flavor can ultimately vary from tree to tree; their fruits can be bland, bitter, strongly acidic, or sweet. Apricots are ideal for canning or making jams. Or, you can simply enjoy the tree’s stunning pink and white ornamental flowers in Spring.

Manchurian Apricot trees are native to Southeast Asia, but they also thrive in North America. Give them access to full sun and well-drained, neutral soils. Though most apricots are self-fruitful, keep a neighboring apricot, plum, or pear tree for better chances of pollination.

Other Common Names: Prunus armeniaca var. Mandshurica, Scout Apricot, Bitter Apricot, Manchurian Plum

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 15-26 feet tall, 15-32 feet wide

Fruiting Season: Summer to Fall

4. Silver Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea) – Fruit Shrub

Silver Buffaloberry
Image by Matt Lavin via Wikimedia Commons

The Silver Buffaloberry is a dense shrub that features silvery leaves, glossy brown bark, and fragrant yellow flowers in Spring. If you want to pick its red berries in the Fall, be extra careful not to prick yourself with the plant’s thorny branches!

Silver Buffaloberry’s fruits are not actually berries, they’re drupes—fleshy like a peach. Bitter or sour at first, they become sweeter when harvested after a frost. Native Americans enjoyed making puddings and jellies from these drupes, but remember to eat them only in small quantities! They contain toxic saponins.

Highly tolerant of urban conditions, your Silver Buffaloberry tree will make an excellent windbreak or privacy hedge. These trees live for 25 years on average. Note that you’ll need a male pollinator tree for a female tree to bear fruit.

Other Common Names: Buffaloberry, Thorny Buffaloberry, Bull Berry, Rabbit Berry, Beef Suet Tree, Nebraska Currant, American Silverberry

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 2-18 feet tall, 8-13 feet wide

Fruiting Season: Summer to Fall

Other Berry Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), Saskatoon Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), Silverberry (Elaeagnus commutata)

5. Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) – Fruit Shrub

Golden Currant

When a Golden Currant shrub is in bloom, it’s hard to miss the spicy vanilla fragrance of its yellow, cream, or red flowers. They’re especially irresistible for hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies. Afterwards, you’ll have a cluster of edible black fruits to enjoy in the Summer.

Although Native Americans used Golden Currants for their meals and medicine, you might want to hold back on eating too much of these tart fruits. Large quantities can make you nauseous. They’re perfect for mixing with sugar and made into jams, jellies, and pies.

You’ll be delighted to know how easily this hardy shrub grows. In fact, it spreads too well that you’ll have to remove unwanted suckers. Young plants will appreciate more frequent watering, but Golden Currants are incredibly drought-tolerant once established.

Other Common Names: Buffalo Currant, Clove Currant, Black Currant, Missouri Currant, Slender-flowered Blackcurrant, Yellow-flowered Currant, Golden-flowered Currant, Pruterberry,

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 6-8 feet tall, 4-6 feet wide

Fruiting Season: Summer to Fall

6. Skunkbush Sumac (Rhus trilobata) – Fruit Shrub

Skunkbush Sumac

The Skunkbush Sumac provides great ornamental value with a long season of interest. The display starts with soft green flowers in Spring, followed by sour but edible crimson berries ripening in Summer. By Fall, you’ll be impressed to see its leaves turning to shades of red, yellow, and orange.

Native to North America, the Skunkbush Sumac will thrive well against Zone 2’s cold temperatures and dry soils. Even in Winter, you’ll readily find this hardy shrub piercing snowy landscapes with color and life. The leaves provide shelter for overwintering birds and mammals.

Planted in your yard, Skunkbush Sumac will do best as a privacy screen or a windbreak. It requires full sun to thrive, but it’s not picky with soil types (just make sure there’s good drainage). It’s also easy to propagate, and it is fairly resistant against pests and diseases!

Other Common Names: Skunkbush, Sourberry, Three-leaf Sumac, Fragrant Sumac, Aromatic Sumac, Scented Sumac, Ill-scented Sumac, Basketbush, Squawbush

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 3-6 feet tall, 6-8 feet wide

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Sumacs Suitable for Zone 2: Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra)

7. Showy Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora) – Fruit Tree

Showy Mountain Ash

Showy Mountain Ash is a popular ornamental tree for its display of white flowers in Spring and its leaves which turn yellow-orange in the Fall. You’ll see large clusters of red fruits persist on the tree from Winter to Spring; leave some for overwintering birds to eat!

Ash trees usually have toxic seeds, so remember to only consume the berries in small quantities. Besides, the flavor can be quite bitter. Showy Mountain Ash berries taste better after a frost and are best mixed into jams, jellies, syrups, vinegars, and wines.

Though this North American native grows fast, note that it’s not drought-tolerant. It requires moist, well-drained soils and partial shade to thrive. Showy Mountain Ash is incredibly cold-hardy, but watch out for fire blight and insect borers. On average, your tree can survive for 25-50 years.

Other Common Names: Northern Mountain Ash, Dogberry, Sorbier Plaisant

Growing Zones: 2-6

Average Size at Maturity: 13-33 feet tall, 15-20 feet wide

Flowering Season: Spring to Summer

Other Ash Trees Suitable for Zone 2: American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana), European Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia), Greene Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina)

8. Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) – Fruit Tree

Black Hawthorn
Image Credit: (left) Kymi, (right) Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for a tree that’s both stylish and useful, meet the Black Hawthorn! This compact, bushy shrub boasts fan-shaped leaves which turn bright red in the Fall. In Spring, it blossoms with gorgeous white flowers. Then, it produces the sweet black fruits that it’s named for.

The Black Hawthorn can grow big and wide, spreading out into thickets with its long trunk and a rounded top. Be especially careful with its prickly thorns! This North American native likes full sun or partial shade, and it can live in both dry and moist soils.

Not only is the Black Hawthorn a beautiful tree, it’s also a tasty treat for many creatures. Cows and sheep love to munch on its leaves, while birds and bears can’t get enough of its fruits. Magpies build their nests in its branches and butterflies use the foliage as a home. Of course, you can also harvest the juicy pomes to make pies and fruit preserves!

Other Common Names: Douglas Thornapple, Douglas Hawthorn, Aubepine, Black Haw, Blackthorn, Haw Apple, Hawthorn, May Bush, Red Hawthorn, Thorn Apple, Thorn Plum

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 26-30 feet tall, 10-25 feet wide

Fruiting Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

Evergreen Trees for Zone 2

9. Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) – Evergreen Tree

Rocky Mountain Juniper

The Rocky Mountain Juniper is a native evergreen with many uses for your backyard. Plant it in rows as a windbreak, as a decorative bonsai, or as an accent tree. Albeit slow-growing, this majestic conifer has an average lifespan of 70-300 years.

Initially featuring a narrow crown of drooping blue-green needles, Rocky Mountain Juniper becomes more open and rounded with age. You’ll see the first flowers and berries appear after 10-20 years of growth. These sweet berries are a delight for humans and wildlife alike.

The Rocky Mountain Juniper is an adaptive tree—withstanding long summers and very cold temperatures. It thrives even in rocky, infertile, or sandy landscapes. Grow your tree in a sunny backyard with moist to dry soil. If you have limited space, ‘Wichita Blue’ is a compact, slow-growing male cultivar reaching only 15 feet tall.

Other Common Names: Redcedar, Rocky Mountain Red Cedar, Mountain Red Cedar, Colorado Red Cedar, Western Red Cedar, River Juniper, Western Juniper, Seaside Juniper, Weeping Juniper

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 feet tall, 10-15 feet wide

Other Juniper Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Common Juniper (Juniperus communis), Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)

10. Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) – Evergreen Tree

Colorado Blue Spruce
Image by Lyrae Willis (Own Work), for Tree Vitalize

Prized for its distinctive silvery blue needles and compact pyramidal form, the Colorado Blue Spruce offers a refreshing sight of lush greenery all year round. It’s so famous and well-loved as a classic Christmas tree—it’s cultivated in all 50 states of America!

Be careful with handling the prickly needles of this conifer. These needles are stiff, strong-scented when crushed, and they stay on the tree for about 2-3 years. At 20 years, the Colorado Blue Spruce begins producing reddish purple male cones and their female seed-bearing counterparts (called strobili).

Your Colorado Blue Spruce will thrive in full sun, abundant watering, and in any type of soil: sandy, loamy, or clay. Note that it cannot grow in the shade. This tree can withstand strong winds, frost, and drought. Once established, it grows about 12 inches per year, potentially reaching 600 years of age!

Other Common Names: Blue Spruce, Green Spruce, Silver Spruce, Parry Spruce, Colorado Spruce, White Spruce, Water Spruce

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 30-80 feet tall, 10-30 feet wide

Other Spruce Trees Suitable for Zone 2: White Spruce (Picea glauca), Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmannii), Norway Spruce (Picea abies), Pimoko Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika ‘Pimoko’), Black Spruce (Picea mariana)

11. Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra) – Evergreen Tree

Austrian Pine

Once worshiped by ancient Romans as a symbol of immortality, the Austrian Pine is the toughest of all European pines. They are fast growing, drought-tolerant, and extremely cold-hardy. They can withstand soil and air pollution, and live for up to 500 years!

With deep green needles and a beautiful gray bark, Austrian Pines are popularly harvested as Christmas trees. Instead of chopping your tree down for the holidays, you may choose to decorate it outdoors. Sheltering owls, squirrels, and other wildlife will thank you for it.

Your Austrian Pine will thrive best in full sun, and moist well-drained soils. Use it as a windbreak or a shade tree along roadsides. Its evergreen leaves will bring a refreshing sight to your property all year round. Native to Austria, this tree is naturalized in the USA.

Other Common Names: Black Pine, European Black Pine, Larch Pine, Australian Pine, Spanish Black Pine, Cevennes Black Pine, Corsican Pine, Crimean Pine, Calabrian Pine

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40-180 feet tall, 20-40 feet wide

Other Pine Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris), Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana), Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis), Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo), Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta), Red Pine (Pinus resinosa), Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis)

12. Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica) – Evergreen Tree

Siberian Fir

Image Credit: (left) Crusier, (right) Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, via Wikimedia Commons

If height and style is what you’re looking to introduce in your garden, the Siberian Fir is your go-to tree! This tall and majestic evergreen is native to northern Asia, but it thrives just as well in USDA Zone 2. In fact, it’s among the cold-hardiest trees to exist!

You might be familiar with the Siberian Fir’s scent: fresh, woody, and somewhat sweet. It’s a popular Christmas tree, offering a pleasantly symmetrical silhouette and lower branches that gracefully droop downwards. Plus, its fragrant dark green needles are soft to the touch.

To give your Siberian Fir tree the best chance to grow, plant it in moist, acidic soil that drains well. It can do well in the shade, but it’ll grow even faster in the sun. It’s perfect as a windbreak, a focal point, or as a landscape tree. With an average lifespan of 150-200 years, this tree might become a family heirloom!

Other Common Names: Siberian Silver Fir

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 40 feet tall, 20 feet wide

Other Fir Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa), Korean Fir (Abies koreana)

13. Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) – Evergreen Tree

Northern White cedar

With a pleasant conical shape, The Northern White Cedar boasts soft bluish green needles which remain on the tree all year. As a North American native, this conifer will have no problem surviving in Zone 2. Albeit slowly, it grows tall and strong, and survives 50-150 years on average.

With light, strong and durable wood, the Northern White Cedar has been used for centuries to make canoes, huts, baskets, and much more. It is also an excellent tree for wildlife, providing food and shelter for birds and small mammals. The tree is also resistant to rot and decay, making it ideal for wetland areas.

In the garden, the Northern White Cedar is often used as a privacy hedge or as a windbreak. The tree is low maintenance, drought-tolerant, and can grow in a wide range of soils. You can plant it in full sun or partial shade. It requires minimal pruning, and can be easily styled into topiaries.

Other Common Names: American Arborvitae, Eastern Arborvitae, Eastern White Cedar, Arborvitae, Swamp Cedar

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 25-40 feet tall, 10-12 feet wide

Varieties Suitable for Zone 2: ‘Sunkist’, ‘Tiny Tim’, ‘Rheingold’, ‘Hetz Midget’, ‘Golden Globe’, ‘Danica’

14. Russian Cypress (Microbiota decussata) – Evergreen Shrub

Russian Cypress - Grid Collage
Image by Lyrae Willis (Own Work), for Tree Vitalize

Unique from the usual cone-shaped conifer trees we see, the Russian Cypress spreads as a low-growing shrub. In fact, it’s among the smallest conifers to exist. This peculiar-looking plant hails from the mountains of Siberia, and is the single species within its genus.

The Russian Cypress has been gaining popularity as an evergreen ground cover in many gardens and parks, including in USDA Zone 2. It’s prized for its drought tolerance, ability to grow in shaded areas, and extreme cold-hardiness. In mature specimens, you might see yellow berry-like cones.

Though the Russian Cypress mostly maintains soft green needles throughout the year, sometimes they fade to purplish bronze or brown in Winter. You can grow it in full sun or partial shade, with access to well-drained alkaline soils. Note that this shrub is prone to root rot if overwatered.

Other Common Names: Siberian Cypress, Microbiota, Siberian Carpet Cypress, Talus Pillow

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 1-2 feet tall, 3-12 feet wide

Drought-tolerant Trees for Zone 2

15. Boxelder Maple (Acer negundo) – Drought-tolerant Tree

Boxelder Maple Identification
Images by Lyrae Willis (Own Work), for Tree Vitalize

Unlike the typical maple leaves you’d imagine, the Boxelder Maple has pinnately compound leaves which are more like those of ash trees. These leaves turn yellow-green in the Fall. Meanwhile, the flowers (blooming in Spring) grow in clusters looking like tassels on a curtain.

Boxelder Maple is native to North America, historically planted in shelterbelts to prevent wind erosion. You can also plant it as a sun-loving, drought-tolerant, fast-growing shade tree. Expect a visit from lots of birds and squirrels where this tree grows!

If you prefer a more colorful display of leaves, look for cultivars such as ‘Flamingo’ and ‘Baron’. Some things to watch out for are the tree’s brittle wood, susceptibility to Boxelder bugs, messy leaf litter, and a relatively short lifespan of only 60 years.

Other Common Names: California Boxelder, Western Boxelder, Inland Boxelder, Ashleaf Maple, Manitoba Maple, River Maple, Red River Maple, Negundo Maple, Elf Maple, American Maple, Cut-leaved Maple, Three-leaf Maple, Sugar Maple, Black Ash, Stinking Ash, Sugar Ash

Growing Zones: 2-10

Average Size at Maturity: 35-80 feet tall, 30-50 feet wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Other Maple Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Amur Maple (Acer ginnala), Rocky Mountain Maple (Acer glabrum)

16. American Elm (Ulmus americana) – Drought-tolerant Tree

American Elm
Images by Lyrae Willis (Own Work), for Tree Vitalize

Hailed as America’s favorite street tree, the American Elm was a common sight until the Dutch Elm disease killed 77 million elms in the 1940s. Thanks to the restoration efforts of scientists all over the nation, these trees have made a commercial comeback in recent times!

Planting American Elms across the road from each other will give you beautiful arching branches that meet in the middle. Their umbrella-like canopy provides the perfect shade for pedestrians. Go for disease-resistant cultivars such as ‘Princeton’, ‘New Harmony’, ‘Valley Forge’, ‘Jefferson’, and Prairie Expedition®.

Let your American Elm thrive in open spaces with full sun and well-drained soils. You’ll be rewarded with lovely yellow leaves in the Fall. Extremely hardy and drought-tolerant, these trees can live for up to 200 years in cold climates.

Other Common Names: White Elm, Water Elm, Common Elm, Gray Elm, Soft Elm, Florida Elm

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 feet tall, 40-70 feet wide

17. Burr Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) – Drought-tolerant Tree

Burr Oak

The Burr Oak is a majestic tree, but it grows so huge that not every backyard can handle this North American native. It’s more ideal for open fields away from roads and power lines. 10-15 years after planting, your tree will produce acorns larger than that of other species.

Because of the tree’s prominence and longevity, many parks, villages, and cities all over the USA are named after the Burr Oak. Even in English literature, Burr Oak is famously referenced. Its spreading crown is remarkable to gaze upon in Spring, then it loses its leaves in the Fall.

Burr Oaks can adapt to different soil types, but they thrive best in alkaline soils under full sun. They’re also incredibly drought-tolerant. Your Burr Oak can live for more than 300 years. Use it as a shade tree, ornamental tree, or a shelter for local wildlife.

Other Common Names: Bur Oak, Mossycup Oak, Savanna Oak, Overcup White Oak, Prairie Oak, Blue Oak, Scrub Oak

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 90-150 feet tall, 70-100 feet wide

Other Oak Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Gambel Oak (Quercus gambelii)

18. Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) – Drought-tolerant Tree

Green Ash Trees

With its thick, fissured gray bark and beautiful golden leaves in the Fall, it’s easy to spot a Green Ash tree in the wild. In Winter, you’ll find reddish brown, velvety buds on the tree. By Spring, it grows back its shed leaves together with small flowers. It’s a beautiful tree for all seasons!

Of course, this North American native isn’t just a pretty sight to see, it’s also a useful tree in many respects. It’s popularly cultivated as an ornamental tree, a shade tree, a boulevard specimen, or a windbreak. Its seeds are a favorite of birds and other wildlife.

The Green Ash grows fast and has a spreading habit. For optimal growth, plant it in full sun and moist soil. Just be warned, female trees make a mess with their seeds annually, so keep that in mind when planting one in a backyard or near a walkway. Or, you can opt for a male tree.

Other Common Names: Red Ash, Water Ash, Swamp Ash, Pumpkin Ash, Darlington Ash

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-70 feet tall, 35-50 feet wide

19. Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) – Drought-tolerant Tree

Russian Olive
Image Credit (left): Gmihail via Wikimedia Commons

Though the Russian Olive is native to Asia, it’s an introduced species in North America. Birds simply couldn’t resist eating the tree’s delicious fruits, thereby dispersing the seeds and helping to spread the species locally. Thankfully, it’s not invasive in Alaska.

You’ll find that the Russian Olive is delightfully easy to grow. It thrives even on nutritionally poor soil types, it grows fast, and it’s highly tolerant of drought and cold. In fact, it might grow a little too well. Be careful of the fast-spreading roots, and the seeds which resiliently spread.

Give your Russian Olive access to full sun and well-drained soil. It may grow as a thorny shrub or a small multi-trunked tree. Of course, the tree’s crowning glory is its silvery green canopy which bears fragrant, yellow fruits (actually drupes, not olives as you might think!).

Other Common Names: Silver Berry, Wild Olive, Oleaster, Trebizond Date

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 16-23 feet tall, 15-20 feet wide

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

20. Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) – Drought-tolerant Tree

Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany
Image Credit: (left) Jason Hollinger, (right) Davefoc, via Wikimedia Commons

The Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany is a true wonder to behold. With the oldest specimen being 1,350 years old, it’s among the longest living flowering plants. This North American native is exceptionally hardy, surviving in Zone 2 areas with very little rain and extreme temperatures.

The trumpet-shaped flowers may catch your attention in the Summer, which open to reveal ornamental feathery fruits in the Fall. Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany may grow as a beautifully branched tree, or as a low shrub. Native Americans once used to fashion bows from its wood.

When planting the Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany, choose a substrate which is sandy and fast-draining (it can be nutritionally poor.) Remember, it does best under full sun. Expect your tree to grow extremely slowly, some may even take 100 years to reach their full height!

Other Common Names: Curlleaf cercocarpus, Mountain Mahogany, Western Jupiter-curlleaf, Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Growing Zones: 2-6

Average Size at Maturity: 3-35 feet tall, 4-8 feet wide

Other Mahogany Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus)

Fast-growing Trees for Zone 2

21. American Linden (Tilia americana) – Fast-growing Tree

American Linden

You’ll love waking up to the honey-lemon scent of the American Linden in Summer. In fact, its small yellow flowers are extracted to create aromatic perfumes. Don’t be surprised to be visited by bees, butterflies, and many pollinators when this tree is in bloom.

The American Linden tree showcases heart-shaped leaves which turn golden yellow in the Fall. The foliage is contrasted by a fibrous brown-gray trunk. Casting a wide shadow, this lovely tree is perfect for sidewalks, parks, and open areas where shade-loving grasses grow.

Native to North America, American Linden grows faster than most hardwoods. Give your tree access to full sun and moist, alkaline soils. You will need to water young trees more frequently, but they’re very easy to maintain once established. They live for up to 200 years!

Other Common Names: Bee Tree, American Basswood, Carolina Basswood, White Basswood, Lime Tree, American Lime, Basswood, Linden

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 feet tall, 35-50 feet wide

Flowering Season: Summer

22. Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) – Fast-growing Tree

Black Cottonwood

The Black Cottonwood boasts a beautiful contrast between its ridged, light gray bark and its lush, heart-shaped leaves. Especially aromatic in Spring, the leaves unfold to give off a refreshing balmy scent.

With strong absorbent roots, the Black Cottonwood tree is especially reliable in controlling soil erosion from flooding. It’s also a haven for local wildlife. Celebrated for its rapid growth rate, this member of the Willow family can mature in just 60 years and live for another 200!

Plant your Black Cottonwood in damp areas with well-drained soil and access to lots of sun. Its white, cottony seed heads will gently fall down from the branches, creating a lovely illusion of a snowfall in Summer.

Other Common Names: Western Cottonwood, Balsam Poplar, California Poplar, Western Balsam Poplar, Black Poplar, Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 120-200 feet tall, 90 feet wide

Other Poplar Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides), Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera), Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides), Balm of Gilead (Populus candicans), Bigtooth Aspen (Populus grandidentata), Lombardy Poplar (Populus nigra)

23. Weeping Willow (Salix × sepulcralis) – Fast-growing Tree

Weeping Willow

Image Credit: (left) Wilhelm Zimmerling PAR, (right) Ueberwald, via Wikimedia Commons

The Golden Willow belongs to a group of highly diverse hybrid trees which are found all around the world. It earned its name for its long golden branchlets dramatically drooping to the ground. They’re commonly admired along riverbanks.

There’s a reason the Golden Willow is a popular ornamental tree. It sports bright green leaves and tufty catkins in Spring. By Fall, the leaves turn yellow before dropping to reveal orange-brown branches. Even the bark’s ridges and furrows add to the tree’s appeal.

This tree thrives just as well in the cold Alaskan climate as it does in temperate regions. It grows incredibly fast, reaching 45 feet within only 20 years. Give your tree access to full sun and moist, acidic or alkaline soil. It’s resistant to fire and drought.

Other Common Names: Weeping Willow (nothovar. sepulcralis), Golden Weeping Willow (nothovar. chrysocoma), White Weeping Willow, Glaucous Weeping Willow, Kemp Willow

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 feet tall, 65-80 feet wide

Other Willows Suitable for Zone 2: White Willow (Salix alba), Silver Willow (Salix alba var. sericea), Golden Willow (Salix alba var. vitellina), Slender Willow (Salix petiolaris), Peachleaf Willow (Salix amygdaloides), Salix x ‘Americana’

24. Western Larch (Larix occidentalis) – Fast-growing Tree

Western Larch

While the Western Larch is best known for painting landscapes golden in the Fall, it is a magnificent ornamental tree in any season. Its needles are soft and green in Spring then turn bluish in Summer. In 40-50 years, it produces decorative red, brown, or purple cones.

The native Western Larch is a haven for wildlife, particularly bald eagles and woodpeckers. For indigenous tribes, its bark and leaves have been a reliable source of food, medicine, and lumber. You can also harvest the branches for firewood which burns very hot and clean.

Western Larches are resistant to fire, diseases, and pests. They thrive in cool, moist environments and even in burned land. If you’re planting one, give it access to full sun and well-drained soils. This tree grows incredibly fast and lives for up to 500 years!

Other Common Names: Western Tamarack, Hackmatack, Mountain Larch, Montana Larch

Growing Zones: 2-6

Average Size at Maturity: 90-270 feet tall, 40 feet wide

Other Larch Trees Suitable for Zone 2: European Larch (Larix decidua), Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica), Dahurian Larch (Larix gmelinii), Eastern Larch (Larix laricina)

25. Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) – Fast-growing Tree

Paper Birch

This beautiful tree is a fan favorite in North America for good reason. The Paper Birch’s smooth white bark coupled with its vibrant yellow leaves is a romantic sight to behold in the Fall. Additionally, it is New Hampshire’s state tree, so it’s not just aesthetically pleasing but also patriotic.

The Paper Birch tree isn’t the best at handling heat and humidity. But don’t worry, it’s a cold weather champ and can survive up to 100 years in the right climate. So, if you live in Zone 2, this tree is perfect for you! Just give it plenty of sunshine, because it doesn’t do well in the shade.

Initially, Paper Birch seedlings will have dark-colored bark, but it will grow paler through age. In just 3 short years, you’ll be rewarded with the papery white bark which is harvested for flooring, furniture, popsicle sticks, canoes, and much more! Plus, these trees grow fast, making them a great option for city gardens and foundation plantings.

Other Common Names: Canoe Birch, White Birch, American White Birch, Silver Birch

Growing Zones: 2-6

Average Size at Maturity: 50-130 feet tall, 25-50 feet wide

Other Birch Trees Suitable for Zone 2: European White Birch (Betula pendula), Water Birch (Betula occidentalis), American Dwarf Birch (Betula glandulosa), Dwarf Arctic Birch (Betula nana), Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)

Dwarf Trees and Shrubs for Zone 2

26. Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) – Dwarf Tree

Common Lilac

With the longest blooming period among all varieties of lilacs, the Common Lilac paints the landscape with pink, purple, cream, or white flowers in Spring. Don’t be surprised to see lots of butterflies and bees where this tree grows. The fragrance is described to be sweet, spicy, fresh, and intense.

This popular ornamental shrub will look good in beds and borders, along hedges and screens, or even in small containers on patios. Prune your Common Lilac plants just after they flower. Uproot suckers to maintain a neat form.

Though it’s native to Europe, the Common Lilac is not an aggressive species and it has been naturalized in much of North America. In fact, this plant is so popular that more than 2,000 cultivars and hybrids exist today! They best grow in full sun with access to good airflow to avoid powdery mildew.

Other Common Names: Lilac, Flowering Shrub, Fragrant Shrub, English Lilac, French Lilac, Lilac Bush, Pipe Privet, Pipe Tree

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 3-20 feet tall, 8-15 feet wide

Flowering Season: Late Spring

Lilac Varieties Suitable for Zone 2: Scentara® Double Blue, ‘James Macfarlane’, ‘Yankee Doodle’, Preston Lilac (Syringa × prestoniae), Common White Variety (S. vulgaris var. alba)

27. Siberian Pea Shrub (Caragana arborescens) – Dwarf Tree

Siberian Pea Shrub

Though the Siberian Pea Shrub is native to Eurasia, it’s an important ornamental plant in the landscapes and nurseries of Alaska. However, this species has recently been observed to escape cultivation and invade natural areas, so make sure to contain its growth in isolated garden beds or big pots.

Boasting fragrant yellow flowers to attract songbirds and pollinators in Summer, the Siberian Pea Shrub is a common sight in urban Alaskan yards. Its deep roots help control erosion, plus it neutralizes the soil for other plants. Used as a windbreak, it prevents snow drifting.

You can eat the flowers and seeds of the Siberian Pea Shrub, but take note to cook the seeds first. This plant thrives in full sun and tolerates just about any soil type. It grows aggressively fast, so we recommend training it as a small bonsai tree so it’s easier to manage.

Other Common Names: Siberian Pea Tree, Caragana, Black Karagana, Common Caragana, Yellow Acacia, Pea Tree

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 6-20 feet tall, 12-15 feet wide

Flowering Season: Early Summer

28. Fourwing Saltbush (Atriplex canescens) – Shrub

Fourwing Saltbush

Fourwing Saltbush grows abundantly throughout North America, hybridizing with others in its genus to form a variety of unique-looking bushes. As such, you can grow this plant as a rounded hedge, as low-crawling undergrowth, or like an open-branched tree.

In the Summer, small yellow flowers and attractive purple to golden fruits will appear on female specimens. The Fourwing Saltbush is a haven for browsing wildlife and pollinators of all sorts: birds, bees, rabbits, sheep, antelopes, elks, and many others.

The roots of Fourwing Saltbush plants grow 20 feet deep into the ground, helpful for stabilizing soil against heavy rains and floods. Give it access to full sun and alkaline, well-drained soil types. This native semi-evergreen shrub can live in your yard for 30-100 years!

Other Common Names: Grey Sage Brush, Hoary Saltbush, Salt Sage, White Greasewood, Shadscale, Fourwing Shadscale, Wing-Scale, Bushy Alteiplex, Chamiso, Chamiza

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 1-10 feet tall, 3-8 feet wide

Flowering Season: Mid Spring to Mid Fall

29. Sitka Alder (Alnus sinuata) – Shrub

Sitka Alder
Image Credit: (left) Georgi Kunev, (right) Matt Lavin, via Wikimedia Commons

As an Alaskan Native, the Sitka Alder has no problem surviving in the tundra weather of Zone 2. In fact, it’s an important source of shelter and warmth for local wildlife during the Winter. Did you know Beavers build their dams with the bark of alder trees?

You can grow the Sitka Alder as a dense bush or as a small multi-trunked tree. It thrives in full sun or partial shade, but the important thing to remember is to keep the soil damp. It’s suitable with just about any soil type, even nutritionally poor ones.

Impressively, Sitka Alder pops up in sites that have been recently disturbed by fires or avalanches. Its strong root system helps to prevent erosion along river banks. Those same roots fix nitrogen, which makes the soil fertile for its neighboring plants. It truly is a helpful tree!

Other Common Names: Alnus viridis subsp. sinuata, Wavy Leaf Alder, Mountain Alder, Green Alder, Alder

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 10-35 feet tall, 6-10 feet wide

Other Alder Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Mountain Alder (Alnus crispa), Thinleaf Alder (Alnus tenuifolia), Speckled Alder (Alnus icana subsp. rugosa)

30. Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens) – Shrub

Lead Plant

If you want a lovely native perennial decorating your garden, the Lead Plant is the way to go. This bush’s fragrant leaves and purple flowers are sure to attract a community of bees, butterflies, birds, and other pollinators to your area. In the Fall, the green leaves turn golden yellow.

On top of being a pretty sight, the Lead Plant has a variety of uses. Its extensive roots help control soil erosion along watery banks. Also, it can be planted as a windbreak. Native Americans used to make medicinal tea, salves, and smoking mixtures with this plant’s leaves and flowers.

Lead Plants do best under full sun and well-drained soils. You’ll be pleased to know that they’re drought-tolerant, not picky with soil types, and are resistant to most pests and diseases. Plant yours along meadows, banks and slopes, or beds and borders.

Other Common Names: False Indigo, Downy Indigo Bush, Prairie Shoestring, Buffalo Bellows, Leadplant Amorpha

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 1-4 feet tall, 2-5 feet wide

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Amorpha Trees Suitable for Zone 2: Indigo Bush (Amorpha fructicosa)

Cold-hardy Trees for USDA Zone 2

Gardening in the harsh climate of Zone 2, you will need to provide your young trees and other garden crops with heavy mulch and supplemental water during Winter. You can also put your plants in sheltered locations like greenhouses, cold frames, or hoop tunnels.

As a rule of thumb, plants that we listed as hardy to Zone 1 are also hardy to Zone 2 and the next few higher zones. Likewise, plants that are hardy to Zone 2 are also hardy to Zone 3 and so forth.

Pick a tree in this list and start planting! You may harvest fruits from your trees or simply enjoy their ornamental flowers. Evergreen trees liven up your garden all year round.

If you plant drought-tolerant trees, you don’t need to worry about irrigation during dry winters. Dwarf trees and shrubs are ideal for small backyards. Fast-growing trees can be fun to watch.

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Eliza Gail Tiongson

Conservation Enthusiast & Plant Hobbyist

Eliza is a plant hobbyist from the botanically diverse country of the Philippines. She grew up surrounded by trees, farms, and all sorts of flora which sparked her passion for the conservation of nature. When Eliza is not busy reading and writing about plants, you will find her digging and growing in the garden where she feels the happiest. She equally loves animals, cosmology, books, music, and art.

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